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Aftercare

Don’t plan to go out right after your tattoo. You have an open wound. Treat it as such.

Go home and rest.

How to Take Care of Your Tattoo

You finally did it. You got the tattoo you always wanted. It’s bright and it’s colourful. But now you have to take care of it to make sure you don’t get a skin infection. So how do you even know what the right steps are?

Click in the photos for product link and specific details

Bandage

Your artist will sanitize and apply a bandage to your tattoo. You can keep it for a maximum of 3 days. All the aftercare mentioned below is done counting the day of removal of the bandage. If you notice any reaction to the bandage remove it straight away, do not wait.

To properly remove the bandage do not peel it like a sticker (lifting), but like a command tape, stretching it. It will prevent wounds and cuts and damage to the tattoo design.

Step 1: Clean

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Wash it with a gentle anti-bacterial soap and let it air dry or use a clean paper towel.

 

Avoid using your bath towel, as it's most likely dirty and could harbour bacteria.

Avoid scratching or touching. Let it breathe and wear loose clothing, if possible.

It's important to keep the skin clean and hydrated after getting a new tattoo. 

Avoid harsh scrubs or exfoliating products. You want to cleanse the skin without compromising the integrity of the skin barrier.

Quantity: Small amount proportional to tattoo size
Frequency: Twice a day 

  • Provides antibacterial protection

  • Lightly fragranced

Step 2: Hidrate

Aquaphor is a classic for a multitude of skin ailments, especially in the wintertime.

It's also great for protecting your freshly inked skin immediately following your tattoo session.

Apply Aquaphor for the first two days following your tattoo, and then a basic moisturizer for two weeks after that. Many people opt for Vaseline, but I recommend Aquaphor instead and advise against Vaseline for this phase of the aftercare routine.

Quantity: Small pea size amount for small tattoos/ Cofee bean amount for bigger pieces
Frequency: Twice a day after washing

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  • Decreases itching and flaking

  • Protects your skin barrier

Step 3: Maintain

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Aveeno is gentle and unscented and is a great option for a basic moisturizer to keep your skin hydrated.

Apply Aveeno on the third day following your tattoo and keep using it for two weeks after that. Many people keep using Aquaphor or Vaseline, but I recommend Aveeno instead and advise against Vaseline for this phase of the aftercare routine.

Quantity: Small pea size amount for small tattoos/ Cofee bean amount for bigger pieces
Frequency: Twice a day after washing

  • Moisturizes skin for 24 hours

  • lightweight to use on tattoos during healing

Step 4: Keep it Bright

I praise lotions with vitamin B5 for tattoo care. I am partial to Lubriderm lotions, like this one that contain no fragrances.

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  • Moisturizes skin for 24 hours

  • Best to use after tattoos have completely healed

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor and this is my personal preference when taking care of my tattoos. I can not guarantee how your skin will react to certain products or unknown tattoo complications due to its use. Use at your discretion.

More Aftercare

When you leave the tattoo shop, your ink will look like a million bucks. It will be bright and shiny. That’s not going to last. The tattoo will fade over time. Always put sunscreen on it after fully healed, especially in the summer, to keep the colours bright -- SPF 45 or higher is best.

Things to Avoid:

  • My tattoo is leaking under the bandage, what should I do?
    Don't worry! accumulating fluids/ink inside the bandage of your tattoo is completely normal, this is the nature of our bodies, in case that happens just gently dab paper towel around your bandage in order to absorb the fluid that might leak. If you bandage didn't peel during this process there is no need to remove it yet.
  • My bandage fell off, what should I do?
    In this case remove it completely and start your aftercare, rinse your tattoo in lukewarm water with unscented soap, dry afterwards with a paper towel and JUST apply the cream after 24h hours of getting your tattoo done.
  • Can you have allergic reactions to a tattoo?
    One of the most common side effects of a tattoo is an allergic reaction to tattoo pigment. Allergic reactions to red tattoo pigments happen most often. If you're having an allergic reaction to your tattoo, you might get a rash that's red, bumpy, or itchy. These symptoms can crop up in the days after you first get your tattoo or can appear months or years later. You can most likely treat the area with a steroid ointment. Another cause for itching and swelling is an autoimmune disorder called sarcoidosis. It can show up decades after you get your tattoo. (Fun fact: Since I have a very sensitive skin, even after multiple tattoos I have this disorder, which often happens on me on my large scale and deeper tattoos, mostly on my arms. It also tends to go always by itself and to be triggered by oily and fat/fast food). And although it’s not directly caused by the ink, when it shows up in the skin, it tends to show up on the tattoo. A cream you apply to your skin should help ease your symptoms. But if your case is severe, you might need an immunosuppressant medication from your doctor. If you have eczema or psoriasis, there’s a chance your new tattoo can cause flare-ups of your condition, including bumps, itching, and rash.
  • Why is my tattoo getting red bumps like small pimples?
    If you're having an allergic reaction to your tattoo, you might get a rash that's red, bumpy, or itchy. These symptoms can crop up in the days after you first get your tattoo or can appear months or years later. You can most likely treat the area with a steroid ointment. Tattoo pimples can develop when a hair follicle becomes clogged with oil, dirt, or skin cells. Most tattoo pimples will clear up without causing permanent damage or color loss. However, picking or popping a pimple can lead to skin infections and patches of faded ink.
  • Can I use a medicated product like Bacitracin to help heal faster?
    Using some medicated products, like Neosporin and Bacitracin could cause the body to reject it or heal too quickly, creating an allergic reaction that could involve a significant rash or series of tiny red dots. Some medicated ointment’s properties have an adverse effect on tattoos. The patch of skin that has been ‘traumatized’ by several needles pricking it over and over needs oxygen with a thin layer of moisturization in order to heal the best way possible. If you notice tiny red dots you could be having a small reaction or your skin needs to breathe.
  • What are the risks of touching, picking, scratching and rubbing my tattoo?
    Touching, picking, scratching or rubbing ​ By the time you reach the end of your first week after getting a fresh tattoo is when you’ll see the most tattoo scabbing and peeling. If you mess up during this phase of the process, you could pull out the ink and leave scars, tattoo discoloration, or also prompt infection.
  • Can I re-bandage my tattoo to protect more?
    On completion of your fresh tattoo it gets wrapped in a bandage suitable for protecting fresh wounds. Depending on the type of bandage, the type of aftercare approach you’ll be taking through the healing process, and the instructions from your tattoo artist this bandage will be removed anywhere from 3 – 24 hours after the ink is finished and you’re out of the chair. Once it’s taken off, avoid re-applying a new bandage. It will be counterproductive to wrap the tattoo again, it needs to be able to breathe and for moisturization to occur at a different rate.
  • What happens if I over-treat my tattoo?
    In the wet healing method of tattoos aftercare moisturization is crucial for it to heal but applying too much aftercare product or soap is equally as damaging to how tattoo heals as doing nothing. Over moisturization is often the hidden cause of infection as people try to do too much to either speed up the healing rate or by thinking the ugly part of the healing process can be stopped by lotion, salve, or ointment. Take care, apply lotion in a thin layer at regular intervals but allow it plenty of time to work before putting on another layer. ​
  • Can I sunbathe?
    Direct exposure to sunlight while your new tattoo knits and heals can be detrimental to both your skin and the tattoo ink. DO NOT apply sunscreen on your freshly done tattoo, wait at least 30 days.
  • Can I Swim?
    You can get your tattoo wet during the tattoo aftercare process, but make sure you don’t soak in water of any type for at least three weeks or until the tattoo heals in full. ​ Water entering the tattoo wound can interfere with the healing process itself or cause infection to the tattooed area. This would increase the time the tattoo needs for healing – or necessitate the ink being fixed or treated – and can punish the ink and tissue underneath. Swimming pools contain chemicals, and a lot of people use them. The substances carried by chlorinated water and the people who swim in them are not suitable for the wound and can lead to significant consequences. ​ The risk of infection is also prevalent in natural water bodies – both salt and fresh – due to bacteria and other contaminants in the water. A person should refrain from entering them after having a fresh tattoo done for the same period as they would a chlorine-based swimming pool. ​
  • Can I work out? run? during the healing process?
    Some degree of sweating is to be expected. However, sweating too much is not good for the first weeks after getting inked. Avoid participating in heavy sweating activities or gym sessions until at least the second round of layered tattoo peeling is complete. Gyms, sauna, and activities such as hot yoga can expose your tattoo to bacteria, while running and wearing tight active wear clothing can stretch and chafe your tattoo.
  • How a tattoo can get infected?
    Your tattoo can get infected for a variety of reasons. That's why it’s important to find an artist and a facility you trust. Causes for infection can include: Tattoo Allergic Reaction. It is possible to have reactions to the inks or the metals in the needles used in tattoos, causing swelling and even damage to the skin tissue itself. Allergies to the red dyes are most common. Dirty tools. Nonsterile needles can pass bacterial infections like staph and impetigo from person to person. Make sure your artist is using sealed, disposable needles or cartridges. Ask if your artist has a BBP certificate or training. Ingredients in the ink. The tattoo ink itself may be made from or contain things that could be harmful, such as: The tattoo ink itself may be made from or contain things that could be harmful, such as:The tattoo ink itself may be made from or contain things that could be harmful, such as: Additives made from animal products, like gelatin or glycerin Chemicals like pH stabilizers or coating agents Metal salts Pigments intended for textiles, printer ink, or car paint Ink meant to be used for calligraphy You can also get an infection after getting your tattoo. If your freshly done tattoo get exposed to unsanitary/ contaminated items or environments. If you're drying your tattoo with an used towel, sleeping in dirty bedsheets. Animal hair on your personal use items such as bed sheets, towels, etc. Anything dirty or contaminated that comes in contact with the open wound, sweaty clothes, etc.
  • How do you identify an infected tattoo?
    If your tattoo is infected, you may notice signs in the area where you got the tattoo. Sometimes you'll see them only within certain colors in the tattoo. Symptoms can include: Redness Swelling Bumps on or under your skin that may contain pus Hotness in the area Pain or tenderness Fever and chills Itchiness Tender, swollen lymph nodes Types of Infections Most often, tattoo infections are bacterial skin infections like staphylococcus. You pick them up from unsterile conditions during or after the tattoo procedure or from contaminated equipment. It's uncommon, but you could also get a serious infection called methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). In rare cases, dirty tattoo equipment can pass on serious viral infections like HIV or hepatitis. Which is important to know if your artist has Bloodborne Pathogen training (BBP). Before you get a tattoo, make sure you have current hepatitis and tetanus vaccines.
  • How do you threat an infected tattoo?
    Depending on the what caused your infection and how serious it is, you might need to take one or more antibiotics for up to 6 weeks. Or your doctor might prescribe an antibiotic ointment. If you have a very serious infection, you might need to get antibiotics through an IV. If antibiotics don’t work, you might need surgery to remove some skin in the affected area. If your infection isn't serious, you'll likely make a full recovery. Sometimes it can take a few months, though.
  • Possible Complications From a Tattoo:
    Keloid scarring. A keloid (raised scar) can form anywhere you have trauma to your skin, like a tattoo. If you're prone to keloids, ask your tattoo artist to try a small test spot before you get a tattoo. This may give you an idea of how your skin will react. But keep in mind that it can take months for a keloid to form. If your skin starts to thicken after you get a tattoo, ask your dermatologist about a pressure garment. These may help stop a keloid from forming. MRI complications. It's rare, but tattoos can sometimes cause swelling or burning later on when your doctor gives you an MRI scan. Or they might keep your doctor from getting a good image with an MRI. Before you get an MRI, tell your doctor you have a tattoo. Conceals skin cancer. If you have dark tattoos over large areas of your body, it could keep you from noticing symptoms of skin cancer. Discolored spots on your skin are among the earliest signs. Never get a tattoo over a mole, birthmark, or other discolored area on your skin.
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